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Lower Back Pain and Pregnancy

Congratulations! You’re going to have a baby!

I always enjoy treating pregnant women. Mothers to be may be tired, sometimes feeling nauseous, and in pain, but, most pregnant women are happy and beaming.  True, towards the end of the 9th month it becomes more difficult to carry around all this extra weight and many patients confide in me, “I’ll be glad when this is all over.”  Nevertheless, I have yet to meet a mother to be, that didn’t look foreword to nurturing their precious little newborn.

Lower back pain is rather common in pregnancy, and frankly, based on all of the rapid physiologic changes occurring, it’s no wonder. Your chances of having lower back pain depend on factors like your state of health prior to getting pregnant, how active you are during pregnancy and how much weight you gain throughout your pregnancy.

One important reason that women are prone to lower back pain during pregnancy is that the lower back often becomes progressively more arched as baby grows.  This is a natural outcome of the abdomen increasing in size and weight which causes the center of gravity in the body to progressively move forward. The lower back will arch more and more to accommodate this situation. Progressive arching of the lower back strains the muscles and ligaments of the lower back and pain is often the result.

If you previously had an exaggerated arch of the lower back, a condition called ‘Sway Back’ then pregnancy can even further exacerbate this. In this case, lower back pain is even more likely to occur. Other predisposing factors to having lower back pain are how much weight you gain and how much exercise you do. Naturally, those women who gain a lot of weight and don’t exercise are much more prone to experiencing bouts of lower back pain.

But fear not, there are solutions for treating and preventing lower back pain.

First off, if you are have pain, get treated by your osteopath. My recommendation is to be treated once towards the end of each trimester as preventative care. Naturally, if you are experiencing pain, more treatment may be necessary.  The goals of treatment are to remove stresses and strains from all areas of the back. To mobilize and help the body better accommodate the shifting center of gravity and finally to work on the pelvis, to better accommodate the developing foetus and prepare you for giving birth.

Stay active

Brisk walking every day for 45 minutes or more is a great form of exercise, but, if this is too much, even 20 minutes a day will do.  Walking helps prevent constipation and the baby loves the swinging motion of a brisk walk.

Swimming is also great if you are comfortable in the water. But, if you feel that swimming is putting to much pressure on your lower back, try another stroke or try some other activity.

Try Stretching, yoga or prenatal yoga. Bottom line, listen to your body, let it be your guide.

Diet

Don’t eat for two, this may be very tempting, especially in the last few weeks.  Eat foods that are not constipating, since that can also contribute to lower back pain. Gaining excessive weight only adds to the compressive forces on your back and will contribute to lower back pain.

Things to avoid

Avoid sitting too long. Get up move about every 45 minutes. Sitting significantly puts a greater compressive force onto your back than standing and moving about.

Your shoes are important as your feet tend to swell during pregnancy so wear low heeled comfortable walking shoes especially if you anticipate standing or walking for long periods of time.

Wear comfortable clothes. Tight clothes will tend to cause you to shift your body posture in unnatural ways to accommodate your uncomfortable cloths.

Get plenty of rest. This may become increasingly difficult as your body changes. Use plenty of pillows, one for you head, under your tummy and between your knees.

Between getting the proper osteopathic care, proper exercise, eating well, wearing comfortable clothes and plenty of rest, your pregnancy should have few bumps. Remember, pregnancy is not a disease, it’s a natural process. Be Happy.

All The Best!

Eddy Basch DO

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